Thursday, August 16, 2007

Lost Time...

When Naomi Dorrit revealed that the wreckage of Oceanic 815 had been found with no survivors, my first thought was that 2 planes + 2 pictures of Penny = the Multiverse. I still think that would make a great line for fictional super-nerd Dwight Schrute, who has mentioned both the Others and the Dharma Initiative previously on the Office. But I've come to believe that the second Oceanic 815 was actually staged as part of a cover-up meant to cheat no less a force than fate itself. Oceanic 815 was supposed to crash in the Pacific, killing everyone on board. Against all odds, it crashed instead on the Island with numerous survivors. The second crash was thus faked to prevent the universe from course correcting -- perhaps even catastrophically -- for this significant change in events.

Naomi said two things in particular that really got me thinking. One was that the entire plane had been found with all of the bodies, as confirmed by robotic cameras. Leaving aside the question of how searchers even found the crash site when the plane was underwater and a thousand miles off course, it strikes me as improbably convenient that they accounted for every single body. Naomi's other intriguing comment was that discovery of the wreckage prompted a huge memorial for Charlie and the release of a popular greatest hits album by Driveshaft. Finding those bodies apparently affected a lot of people. Charlie's death was felt worldwide, but the same was undoubtedly true on a smaller scale for everyone else aboard. Funerals were held and folks moved on -- all thanks to the closure those bodies provided.

That reminds me of John Varley's science fiction novel Millenium, which was also made into a B-movie starring Kris Kristofferson and Cheryl Ladd. Two planes collide in mid-air, falling to Earth in a fiery crash that kills everyone aboard. When FAA investigators recover one of the cockpit voice recorders, they discover something strange. Even though the fire didn't begin until after the planes had crashed, a crew member is heard screaming that all of the passengers are already dead and burned. It turns out that time travelers from the future have been abducting people from doomed airliners and replacing them with dead duplicates. The cryptic comment on the voice recorder was because the passengers had been abducted and replaced with burnt corpses in anticipation of the crash.

The reason for taking people who are about to die is that the dead have no future. Changes to the past create temporal paradoxes that ripple through spacetime, causing future "timequakes" as the timeline shifts to compensate. Millenium's timequakes strike me as an interesting metaphor for course corrections, though I doubt the latter are similarly physical. My guess is that course correcting more closely resembles the effects of the temporal "Change War" in Frtiz Leiber's sci-fi classic The Big Time. The premise is that two time-traveling factions (the "Snakes" vs. the "Spiders" -- the rest of us are "Zombies") are locked in combat with all of history as their battlefield. They strike at each other by intervening to change the outcome of key events along the timeline. Here's how one character describes the Change War:
Have you ever worried about your memory, because because it doesn't seem to be bringing you exactly the same picture of the past from one day to the next? Have you ever been afraid that your personality was changing because of forces beyond your knowledge or control? Have you ever felt sure that sudden death was about to jump you from nowhere? Have you ever been afraid of Ghosts -- not the storybook kind, but the billions of beings who were once so real and strong it's hard to believe they'll just sleep harmlessly forever? Have you ever wondered about those things you may call devils or Demons -- spirits able to rage through all time and space, through the hot hearts of stars and the cold skeleton of space between the galaxies? Have you ever thought that the whole universe might be a crazy, mixed-up dream? If you have, you've had hints of the Change War.

The part about the "Ghosts" of people from timelines that no longer exist makes me think of Jacob and the Whispers, both of which have a ghostly quality. I could easily see them being the remains of people who were "erased" from history, perhaps by the original Incident. I'm also struck by the reference of "spirits able to rage through all time and space" -- many, myself included, have speculated that Desmond's electromagnetic "soul" time traveled into the past during Flashes Before Your Eyes. This jibes with the Others' brainwashing video, which states that "only fools are enslaved by time and space." It also fits with Ms. Klugh's question about whether Walt had ever appeared someplace he wasn't supposed to be. Unbeknownst to Michael, Walt had done so on at least two occasions, haunting Shannon with his apparition.

I think the fabricators of that second plane were afraid of becoming ghostly victims of "lost time" themselves. The failure of Oceanic 815 to crash -- and, more importantly, to be found -- threatened to send ripples through the timeline, profoundly unsettling the future. Yes, the universe would ultimately course correct, as it did in the case of Charlie. But the overall picture might still be fundamentally different, as Desmond's changing flashes of the future tend to suggest. So they staged a plane wreck off the coast of Bali and stocked it with duplicates like the ones in Millenium -- perhaps even cloned from those missing hairbrushes that Claire mentioned back in S1. Family members of our Losties gained closure and fans of Driveshaft got their greatest hits album. The rest, as they say, is history...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Orchid

As you've probably heard or read by now, the writers dropped a bomb on us at Comic-Con in the form of a new orientation film, purportedly for Station 6, the Orchid. I say "purportedly" not because I doubt the film's veracity -- it has an outtake's air of authenticity. Rather, my speculation is that the Orchid was actually the precursor for the Swan, and what we saw in the film presages the Incident that Dr. Candle mentions in the Swan Orientation. Take a gander at the video on Lostpedia if you haven't already or your recollection requires refreshment. Then consider some of my whackadoo theories about the thing:

Whackadoo Theory 4: When Swan was in operation, the Island existed a 108 minutes out of phase with our timeline.

Whackadoo Theory 8: Oceanic 815 did indeed crash killing everyone on board. But System Failure opened a wormhole that plucked the plane out of our timeline 108 minutes before it crashed, changing the future so that the plane now crashes on the Island where some survive. The second Oceanic 815 crash was staged ala Capricorn One to prevent a massive course correction.

Whackadoo Theory 15: A poster named Founder speculates that Dr. Candle lost his arm shaking hands with one of his twins. Let's say Wickmund meets Allowax after a wormhole experiment gone awry. They shake hands, resulting in KABOOM! When the dust settles, there is only one person with a whole new name, Dr. Marvin Candle.

Whackadoo Theory 16: Jacob is someone who was erased from the timeline by the Incident.

Whackadoo Theory 23: The Others are timeline twins of certain people who were present during the Incident. Let's say Richard Alpert was originally a member of Dharma. An experiment plucked some version of himself from another point in the timeline like the bunnies in the film. To avoid a temporal rift, they tried to return this twin Richard back to his proper point in the timeline. Unfortunately, they ended up blasting him waaaaaaaaay back in time. Like several centuries. Doesn't explain how Richard has survived this long. But it would explain why such an old soul speaks perfect modern English, even lecturing Ben on the meaning of the word "hostile."

Whackadoo Theory 42: The Island's Casimir Effect creates a kind of static warp bubble modeled on the Alcubierre Drive.